Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Taking A Hike

Taking a Hike

Hiking, one of the most popular activities at Lake Clark National Park, brings a wealth of rewards for those eager to undertake the adventure. But since much of Lake Clark is wilderness—exceptionally remote and isolated—it is vital to be knowledgeable and prepared before setting out. There are very few trails: one hikes cross-country, using a map, compass and the lay of the land to get where you want to go. Hiking Lake Clark demands self-sufficiency and advanced backcountry skills (not to mention common sense). Travelers should also be prepared for the possibility of inclement weather delaying scheduled pick-ups, perhaps by several days.

But for the seasoned hiker, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve offers an exceptionally varied experience. There are rivers to ford, mires to avoid, and sudden and unexpected weather changes. Vegetation and terrain usually dictate the difficulty of the hiking. It is best to plan on covering one mile per hour (allowing for errors in navigation, route selection and the occasional tough-going). Generally, the western slopes of the park and preserve are higher and dryer than the eastern or coastal portions (these get more rainfall, so vegetation is denser). Hikers should also be prepared for wet feet, from either occasional soggy tundra or river fords. Keep in mind that all streams and rivers must be crossed on foot, and during high water levels, this may prove to be impossible.

All camping at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is primitive; no facilities or designated campsites exist. Backcountry permits for camp-ing and hiking are not required. However, there are rules and regulations to follow. Campers are asked to observe the "Leave No Trace" guidelines to keep the wilderness pristine. Resist the urge to take, shape or alter the wilderness around you. It is also advised that hikers and campers leave an itinerary with the field headquarters at Port Alsworth before departing into the backcountry. If you have additional questions, rangers on staff will be happy to assist you and they can be reached at (907) 781-2218.